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Recipe: Respect the can when it comes to artichokes

I love to do things in the kitchen that take up a lot of time, tasks that feel special and maybe a little fussy. Things like soaking precious beans overnight, shucking pounds of fresh peas, and gingerly trimming thorny raw artichokes to steam and eat with clarified butter.

I also love convenience, and, well, none of those things are convenient.

Especially trimming artichokes, which are, without a doubt, one of the more annoying vegetables to prepare and cook, and not to mention hyper-seasonal. (I feel like I can say that, as they’re one of my absolute favorite foods.) But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to enjoy them year-round and at a moment’s notice.

This is why I have come to not only accept but truly love the workaround. Cooking with and enjoying a canned or frozen vegetable doesn’t mean a person respects their ingredients any less than someone cooking with the fresh version. They are different ingredients used at different times, and there is a time and a place for both.

What if artichokes aren’t in season? Or they aren’t available at your grocery store? Or it’s 8:45 p.m., and you just got home, but you know what you could really go for right now? An artichoke. And wouldn’t it be great to eat that artichoke with some crispy chicken in a white wine sauce? Sure would.

Well, you’re in luck, because canned or jarred artichokes are widely available, and boy, do they hit the spot. I am partial to the whole, unmarinated baby variety because I love small, cute vegetables, but also because they come trimmed and cooked, their leaves soft and feathery with fork- tender hearts.

The only thing about these otherwise- perfect little artichokes is that, unlike the marinated ones, they come in a slightly tangy but not especially seasoned brine. (Most simply have a little salt and some citric acid to prevent oxidation.) So they need a little bit of help in the flavor department, as even a fresh artichoke does, but I see that as an opportunity to cook them in a skillet full of chicken fat and white wine.

Typically for a recipe like this, I might say, “go ahead, use another meat like pork chops,” but here, I will not, because artichokes, wine and chicken have an affinity for one another that can’t be replicated. While the specific parts of chicken are up for negotiation (I am partial to thighs), the bone-in, skin-on part is not. You need the skin for its fat, which will render as the skin crisps, and which you can use to sear onions and those aforementioned artichoke hearts, and the bones, which add flavor and ensure against drying out.

I like to serve this particular dish straight from the skillet to reinforce the vaguely “French countryside chic” vibe I am going for, finishing it with a shower of herbs. I like mint with the artichokes best of all, but I know you’ll be happy with anything tender and leafy, like parsley, tarragon or dill.

WINE-BRAISED CHICKEN WITH ARTICHOKE HEARTS

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, or a mix of legs and thighs (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1-1/4 cups dry white wine
  • A few sprigs of thyme, oregano or marjoram
  • 1 cup mint, parsley or dill leaves
  • Sumac, for serving (optional, see note)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high, and add chicken, skin-side down. Cook, without flipping, until skin is deeply golden and much of the fat has rendered, 8 to 10 minutes. (You may need to pour off some fat.)

Using tongs, flip chicken skin-side up. Let the undersides cook another 5 minutes or so. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add artichoke hearts and onions to pan, letting them sizzle until they get a little color, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add wine and thyme, shaking skillet to make sure wine is evenly distributed and scraping up any golden-brown bits.

Return chicken to pan, over artichoke hearts and onions. Bring to a simmer, then place in oven until chicken is cooked and sauce is reduced by about half, 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and scatter herbs over top. Finish with more pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sumac, if you have it. Serves 4.

>> Note: Sumac is a tangy spice made from dried berries. Substitute lemon zest or lemon pepper.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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